Sunday, 27 January 2013


It has been a while since my last publication in this blog. The last weeks have been very busy but now the time has come to start writing again! Originally, I was going to write a post about the milongas of Edgardo Donato. When I thought about the introduction, I realized that the topic can be interesting enough for a stand-alone post. So here it comes... Donato's milongas will follow very soon.

It is always very difficult to make any classification of the tango music. Any "label-putting" carries some risks (there are always some exceptions, we simplify the topic too much, etc...). But still I believe it is wise to classify the music, as it helps us understand the basics and learn more about it. So here comes my classification of milongas... I split them into the following groups:

1) Guardia Vieja style milongas
2) Milongas of d'Arienzo
3) Golden Age milongas

This split might seem very simplistic to many of you. But there's quite some logic behind it and many implications for both dancing and DJ-ing.

1) Guardia Vieja style milongas are the oldest ones. The first song I use while DJ-ing dates back to 1932 (Milonga Sentimental of Adolfo Carabelli). The milongas in this group are very light and playful. In general they are very easy to dance (especially the slow ones). They are perfect for all events and dancers of all levels should appreciate them. In this category we will find the milongas of:
  • Francisco Canaro (from 1930ies)
  • Edgardo Donato
  • Francisco Lomuto (most of them are really fast)
  • Orquesta Típica Victor (there are only 2 frequently played songs)

2) Milongas of d'Arienzo. You might be surprised why I put the milongas of one orchestra in a separate category. I think those songs are distinctive enough to treat them separately. They are less playful than the previous ones. The rhythm is dominant, they are very dynamic. One could even say that they are a bit "aggressive". They are relatively difficult to dance.

3) Golden Age milongas. In the beginning of 1940ies the tango music changes significantly. This change did not spare milongas. After the playful and rhythmical milongas of  the 1930ies, the milongas of the 1940ies become much more melodic. This is the main characteristic of this period. In some songs the rhythm is hardly present (e.g. Zorzal by di Sarli). Those songs are generally sophisticated, very difficult to dance and mainly advanced dancers appreciate them. In this category we will find milongas of many orchestras. E.g.:
  • Angel d'Agostino
  • Aníbal Troilo
  • Carlos di Sarli
  • Miguel Caló
  • Pedro Laurenz
  • Ricardo Tanturi
  • Rodolfo Biagi
Many dancers don't appreciate milongas from this category. I have heard several times comments such as: "this is bad, not danceable music" - that's obviously not the case. As a dancer, I'm not a big fan of Golden Age milongas, but I appreciate them and I know that it is valuable and important music (even if it is less playful and more difficult to dance). I think it would be great if the dancers knew tango music history and its evolution a little better. This would help them to understand and appreciate good tango music, despite their personal preference and dancing level.

Song examples:

1) Guardia Vieja style:

2) Milongas of d'Arienzo:

3) Golden Age Milongas: